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The dangers of change requests

by Krzysztof Malik
April 05. 2018

For the great majority of companies developing software associate a change request only with advantages. It's because, in most of the cases, change requests give the possibility to build more functionalities or provide changes to them. What does it mean? The growth of company's profit. However, change requests also have a dark side.

Get to know change request

We can't get any further without the little definition trip. Change request concerns projects which have extensively described specifications and known budget which is supposed to cover the costs of pursuing all of the needs of a client. This approach is called fixed-price. But what if the client changes the requirements or the extent of the functionalities during developing the project? Well, this is famous change request. It's a serious case. Such changes affect the ways of getting the project done, delivery time and the budget. That's why you need to talk your client: an additional assessment which is counted in the schedule of project development is a must.

Case study

This is the situation from my career. Real life, real problems, no place for simulations. A client wanted to run a project on a known date so that it had a hard-and-fast deadline. During the processing of the enterprise, the client has been advancing many change requests associated with the app views. During working on the project, these changes seemed to be great. They meant additional teamwork and profit for the company in virtue of the change of the requirements. However, that was only a tip of the huge iceberg of issues we had to struggle with later.

Why? Because of team members' mistakes. The project manager did not take into account that change requests may endanger the completion date. That is why he omitted important steps: correction of the schedule and reorganization of the team of developers. It was a bad move due to the fact that the change requests were connected with the key functionalities pursued by the system. Such situation demands some additional work including subsuming more programmers under the project. These steps are crucial to deliver the project on time.

Now let's focus on how to deal with the clash between old schedule and new requests. In our case, the manager ordered the developers to work on change requests between handling tasks from the original schedule. The fallout of this decision was a massive delay in delivering other modules of the system. So, what could be a way out of this situation? One of the solutions is finishing and deliver the project according to the first schedule. Then it is time for implementing change requests. The key to the success of this plan is making sure that the original version of the developed system is working without blame.

Keeping up with change requests

Dear project manager, if you are dealing with change requests, you need to become a ninja of management. There is plenty of factors you must prefigure. They can influence the accomplishment of the whole project significantly. Well, let's get familiar with them!

1. Delivery time

The first thing you need to do after receiving a change request is the estimation of a delivery time that includes changes proposed by your client. Are they going to affect the original date of finishing the project?
If the answer is yes, you need to take these changes up with the client immediately. Get to know if it is possible to delay the delivery time. As a last resort, increase the number of members of the team of developers to work on old and new tasks collaterally.

2. Estimation of costs

The loss of yield is the last thing you want, isn't it? That is the result of the underestimation of costs of change requests' execution. They can harm the project budget badly. However, you can prevent it by careful and accurate assessment.

3. Execution of change requests

Last but not least, actually it is the most important factor. A good plan is a key to the success of your project. If the execution is started at the wrong moment, you will probably find out that the major amount of your team's work is useless. But wait, it can get even worse! What if programmers execute related functionalities by implementing changes collaterally? It may cause a problem with integrity between modules. The best case scenario is the necessity of increasing the time of work in order to integrate modules. At the worst, there will be errors while the running the system.

To sum up...

Change requests are a great opportunity for a company to increase profit and show what employees are capable of. Nevertheless, as a project manager, you must know how to tame these changes. Do not forget about the consequences of careless management which can even lead to the collapse of the project. It gets unpleasant when it happens. The client does not get the desirable system and software house loses the source of funding. No one likes lose-lose situations. Stay reasonable and focused, everything is in your hands!


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